Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Free Legal Encyclopedia: Prerogative orders to Prohibition

Prisoners' Rights - Prisoners And Detainees, Historical Background, Rights Of Detainees, Rights Of Citizenship, Personal Property - Work, Food

federal court officials congress

The nature and extent of the privileges afforded to individuals kept in custody or confinement against their will because they have been convicted of performing an unlawful act.

For most of U.S. history, the treatment of prisoners was left entirely to the discretion of prison administrators. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the federal courts began to oversee state prison systems and develop a body of law dealing with prisoners' rights. During the 1980s, however, a more conservative Supreme Court limited prisoners' rights, and, in the 1990s, Congress enacted laws that severely restricted litigation and post-conviction appeals by prisoners.

Two statutes enacted during the 104th Congress have had a significant effect on the federal court's treatment of prisoners who seek to bring claims against prison officials. Congress passed the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) of 1995, Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, to place restrictions on the ability of federal courts when they consider claims by prisoners. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, reformed the system of HABEAS CORPUS review in federal court. Although prisoners continue to bring lawsuits in federal court, these statutes have made it more difficult for prisoners to make successful claims.

Work

Prisoners ordinarily receive token wages for work performed in prison. Courts have rejected prisoner lawsuits demanding fair wages for prisoner labor, concluding that prisoners do not have to be paid at all. Prisoners have no right to their own labor, or the benefits of it, while incarcerated.

Prisoners cannot refuse to work or choose the work they will do. Prison officials can punish prisoners for refusing to do work assigned to them.

Food

Every prisoner is entitled to food in amounts adequate to sustain an average person. Various groups of prisoners have protested the failure of prisons to furnish them with special diets, and prisoners with special medical needs are generally accommodated. Dietary accommodations have been made for Orthodox Jews and for Muslim prisoners, though prison officials may balance the needs for prison security and economy with the religious beliefs of the inmates.

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or